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Robert Daniel Clifford; Aircraft Engineer

Robert Daniel Clifford, a retired aircraft engineer who worked on the Stealth bomber, has died at the age of 71.

Clifford, who was born Jan. 15, 1924, in Oak Park, Ill., died Thursday of lung cancer.

Although he spent most of his life flying or working on planes, he once told his wife, Barbara, that his favorite job was shoveling coal into the engines of steam-powered locomotives.

He held the job for the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad in 1949, but agreed to give it up when his bride-to-be complained that she missed him when he worked evenings and weekends.

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The couple met in 1947 at a Catholic Youth Organization dance in Chicago. Clifford had just returned from Europe, where, as an Air Force glider pilot, he dropped troops to the ground for battle during World War II. Clifford was drafted into the Air Force at the age of 18.

Shortly after the couple were married in 1949, the Korean War broke out and, as a member of the reserves, Clifford was sent to Fort Worth, Tex., where he worked as an Air Force mechanic.

Clifford was discharged when the war ended in 1953, and the couple decided to settle in California, where he found work with Lockheed Aircraft. After retiring in 1989, Clifford remained active in Star Dusters, a group of retired Lockheed employees.

The couple lived for 25 years in Canoga Park, where they began raising their two children. In 1978, they moved to Simi Valley in search of a less-crowded community.

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When Clifford retired, the couple moved to Camarillo and busied themselves enjoying their retirement years. They enjoyed snow skiing, boating on their 28-foot cruiser, playing tennis and bridge and vacationing.


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